At RWJBarnabas, a retooled approach to cybersecurity adapts to the digital age

phone iPhone
Systems like RWJBarnabas Health are retooling their approach to cybersecurity to allow for more device connectivity.

A cybersecurity overhaul at RWJBarnabas Health has led to a greater reliance on data analytics to detect and report threats, allowing the system more latitude when it comes to integrating mobile devices.

The New Jersey-based health system that houses 12 hospitals and roughly 250 clinics is halfway through a four-year cybersecurity upgrade that relies on data analytics and network visualization tools to keep tabs on who is accessing patient data and what devices are connected to the network, CISO Hussein Syed told The Wall Street Journal.

RELATED: Medical devices are the next big target for hackers

In the past, the system’s IT department had to conduct manual network scans to identify new devices as they were connected. Now, it uses software to track devices in real-time and deploys monitoring tools to track the movement of patient data.

“We’ve had to start thinking differently in the past few years: how do we create plans that we would be able to present to senior management to inform them of cybersecurity risk?” Syed told the WSJ.

RELATED: Healthcare data breaches are 'significantly underreported' as information sharing challenges persist

Healthcare systems and regulators are walking a fine line when it comes to balancing data sharing and network accessibility with privacy and security. Meanwhile, cyberattacks continue to target patient records. Nearly three times as many patient records were accessed in March compared with February and January combined, according to the Protenus Breach Barometer.  Nearly one-third of the 39 breaches reported last month were linked to hacking, and nearly 85% of breaches targeted hospital providers.

Still, healthcare organizations are slowly embracing the Internet of Things even as connected devices put systems at a higher risk for coordinated malware attacks.